Snow Day

Feb 21, 2013 View Comments by

Snow Day

I can remember as a kid waking up earlier for school in the winter for one reason, to see if the local newscaster would make the ultimate announcement . . . Snow Day! Today the ultimate snow day is not really a snow day at all—it’s when you get unseasonably warm temperatures during the winter.

Many folks assume that Colorado stays buried in snow all winter due to its reputation as a great skiing destination. In reality, lots of people here wear shorts and sweatshirts throughout the year. Come spring, it is even possible to ride up the mountain on your motorcycle and ski for the day. In fact, Colorado is known for having more sunny days year round than any other state. But it can still get cold. For example, it has been hovering around -30 degrees in Alamosa, home of the Sand Dunes National Park. Not exactly the type of conditions you usually associate with sand dunes.

So when a few days in late January start boasting temperatures in the 70s, you can bet my adult “Snow Day” will kick in! Winter mornings still have a good amount of slick pavement, so I eat a quick breakfast and hit the road around 9:30 a.m. The first part of the ride is strictly highway; it’s cold, but clear apart from the last bits of fog lifting from the road.

It takes about an hour to travel up Route 66 (not that Route 66) to my starting point, Lyons, CO. I have ridden this road many times and today is the day I intend to tackle some detours I have noted over the years. With the exception of a few rides to work, lingering ice in December has lessened my riding time.

As I arrive in Lyons the elevation increases. The warmer weather promised has not quite reached this area. The speed limits are low but the temperatures are even lower. As I head towards my first side road, CR. 47, I start feeling the excitement I get when I am about to take on a new road. Unfortunately, less than a mile in it becomes apparent that the ice is going to prohibit me from fully exploring this area. I ignore the first warning sign, but the next turn is so slick that my back wheel briefly considers becoming my front wheel before I get straightened out.

On the ride up, discerning between shadows and black ice kept me honest in the turns. But on this road the thin clear layer of ice begins to give way to a thicker, milky white coating that almost completely covers the center yellow line. I cautiously turn the bike around and head back down to the main road. Along the way I am politely warned by other drivers to slow down as I whip around corners at a gnarly seven mph back to route 66.

I can see from my elevated vantage point that any of my prospective dirt detours are plagued with ice as well. I decide to seek out less aggressive routes and stick to areas with more exposure to the sun. Next I select Apple Valley Road. A very short detour but a beautiful little diversion, which begins by crossing over a bridge suspended above a frozen river. It is less icy but abundant amounts of sand keep the speeds down. I spend the rest of the day getting lost in one county after another as I meander around Boulder County and other areas east of Denver. I stop briefly to admire an oversized ode to Easy Rider in the town of Dacono.

As for today, it simply feels good to get out and ride, enjoy my Snow Day, and come home with a bit of the telltale winter tan that comes courtesy of the cold wind. What is your best “Snow Day” moment? Do you have an adventure that came about unexpectedly? Please share below.

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About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!